Rooted in the brutal and corrupt world of 15th-century Italy, Blood & Beauty opens with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, clever and charismatic, buying his way to the papal crown. In this he is not unusual. Neither is the fact that he has illegitimate children. What does mark him is his blood; he is a Spaniard in a country run by established Italian families. To thrive, he must create his own dynasty using the papacy and his family as the building blocks of power. His son Cesare, fearless and calculating (later immortalized in Machiavelli's The Prince), provides the driving energy and the muscle. His daughter Lucrezia is their marriage tool. Aged twelve when the novel opens, she finds herself a bride to no fewer than three husbands-all before the age of twenty. Hers is a journey from pawn to political player.
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